Be an Absolut Ally: The campaign that guides to increased inclusiveness

Absolut in India has started a new campaign called Be an Absolut Ally to create a more inclusive environment and promote positive change. Ten individuals from the Indian LGBTQIA+ community share their personal experiences on varied topics and highlight the simple ways to make more conscious communication in this digitally focused initiative. We talked to Bikram Bindra, Creative Content Manager at The Absolut Company in India, where he explained the campaign’s main purpose, the partnership with bartending collective Mister Bartender & The Crew, and the opportunities vodka presents in a whisky-dominated market.

What is the purpose behind creating the Be an Absolut Ally Campaign?

Despite changes in Indian law and increased diversity representation in media, our research told us that the needle had not moved much on the societal and familial front for the LGBTQIA+ community in India. Attitudes towards the community are still problematic, and the onus of education often lies solely with the LGBTQIA+ individual. To truly inspire meaningful change, we decided to do something that enables well-meaning but ill-equipped potential allies to become more open, inclusive, and safer for their queer counterparts. Also, brands are often accused of co-opting narratives, and we were clear that we want our collaborators to be in charge of their own stories and tell them through their own unique perspectives.

We hope to inspire conversations that help us create a more open world.

What do you hope to achieve?

We hope to inspire conversations that help us create a more open world. The idea behind our 10-part Absolut Playbook is not to be preachy or talk down to anyone but to inspire empathy and relatability. We want to urge people to find better ways of engagement and communication. That’s why we want to give some tips on how to talk in a light, easy and authentic manner. Sometimes, a small gesture or conversation can create anxiety and unwanted discomfort, and at the same time, the same small act could also inspire confidence and reassurance. We want our audience to know that showing up as an ally requires work and effort, but there are simple ways to start and make a difference.

Can you tell us one or two of the most powerful stories from the campaign?

It’s tough to choose because we worked with such an eclectic bunch of individuals representing various parts of the gender and sexuality spectrum, different parts of the country, and even smaller towns in India. There are many powerful stories, but if I had to choose one, I would talk about Anjali Lama, who was born into a farming family in a small village in Nepal and has a tough journey of self-exploration. Through her hard work and commitment, she not only became the first transgender model ever to walk the Indian ramp but has since then also made her New York Fashion Week debut and even starred in a Hollywood film.

Please tell us more about your partnership with Mister Bartender & The Crew.

Mister Bartender & The Crew is India’s first bartender academy empowering women and trans folx to find more acceptance behind the bar counter. Our goal with this partnership is to take our idea of creating more safe spaces for the community in an ecosystem where we can influence our trade partners. Through this partnership, we run training and sensitization workshops with bar staff to encourage more conscious and inclusive conduct and communication. Our goal for the first is to target 100 bars and clubs, and this plan is currently underway. So far, community members and our sales and trade partners are optimistic and excited about the initiative.

What do the collaborators think of the initiative?

The collaborators have been vital and are co-creators of our campaign. They loved the platform, which enabled them to tell their praised stories in their own way. We believe the videos have imparted a sense of intimacy and warmth, which we hope can continue to get shared and inspire conversations.

How has the campaign been received by the public in India?

The response has been highly encouraging and positive. It is seen almost as an educational series but presented in an uplifting and non-intimidating manner. Our core cohort of progressive connectors has also really applauded the idea of teaching allyship through real-life examples and found the authentic storytelling style enjoyable and engaging.

What type of impact and opportunity does Absolut have in India?

India is a whiskey-drinking nation, but the Absolut brand has become iconic in recent years. We have grown by double digits and remain a market leader in our category. With young people searching for high-energy experiences post the pandemic, we have identified possibilities to take more shares in the Indian nightlife and cocktail scene. Also, we will continue our work in creating a more open world with initiatives like the Absolut Ally campaign. However, building emotional equity with our consumers and making a real impact is essential for the Absolut brand.

Contemporary vibes in Korea

In Korea, making an impact is all about having the perfect mix of legacy and contemporary flare. Content is king and if you deliver interesting opportunities, people will que up for the occasions. That’s very much what happened when the Absolut team opened an artistic pop-up called the Absolut Home, in an old factory in Seoul. We had a chat with Dam Bi Lee, Brand Manager for Absolut Vodka in Korea, on her view of the successful activation.

What did you do with Absolut Home in Korea?

The Absolut Home was a pop-up in Seoul that was open for a month. It was a collaborative space where two rising Korean artists showcased their work. The response from the visitors was overwhelming. We had more than 15 000 people showing up and at times there was actually even a line to get in. To me, that was a true testimony on how much Koreans love the Absolut brand. I’d say that the Absolut Home pop-up was one of the most trendy ones in Korea in 2022.

We had more than 15 000 people showing up and at times there was actually even a line to get in. To me, that was a true testimony on how much Koreans love the Absolut brand.

What kind of art was on display at the venue?

In the Livingroom of the pop-up, we had works by Yoyojin, who’s famous for doing elaborate drawings. He did some drawings based on Absolut-themes, but in his own style. Yeojun Yoon was another artist we collaborated with. He decorated the game room of the pop-up with graphic neon signs. His artwork is now in one of the biggest clubs in Seoul, center of Korea. Both artists are great representations of modern Korea.

Yeojun Yoon

What are the biggest drinking trends in Korea now?

I know that there’s a global trend towards an increase in consumption of low ABV-drinks (alcohol by volume). But Korea is different. Here, it’s actually the opposite. Whiskey, gin, and tequila is growing but Absolut vodka is still no 1 in the vodka category. Koreans love Absolut, and the Korean team had done an amazing job. We’re doing all we can to increase the brand’s market share and awareness.

What distinguishes the Korean market compared to other Asian markets?

Key is that we do have a lot of good content. K-pop and K-drama. Most Koreans are passionate about great content. This pop-up is based on this insight, to use an exhibition to deliver our key messages in an experimental and interesting way. Korean consumers seek these kinds of activations. The Absolut home pop-up location was also chosen specifically in a neighborhood known for its artistic residents. The actual venue is an old factory that’s been transformed to an artist building and I’d say just about every Korean knows or has heard of the S-factory. It’s very famous for hosting interesting exhibitions – a perfect match for Absolut.

Ready-to…Go to market

The convenience segment is beating any other category in alcoholic beverages in terms of growth. The pandemic has spiked an interest in premixed cocktails and long drinks, ready-to-drink straight out of the fridge. We chatted with Fredrik Syrén, Global Managing Director RTD & Convenience at Pernod Ricard, on the latest developments of the category and what we can expect from his team in the future.

Since last year, you’ve been heading the global Pernod Ricard RTD & Convenience Business Unit. What’s that been like?

It’s been a very exciting year. I like the challenge of building a new business leg quite different from everything else we do at Pernod Ricard. This venture is a good example of how the entire group is transforming and how our will to always be consumer-centric and data-driven impacts how we do business. Today, consumers want cocktails in convenient formats without compromising on quality, and we need to embrace this and adapt our portfolio. This first year has been a lot about setting up the team – we are now more than 30 people from 9 nationalities in 6 locations worldwide. A team that is now fully onboarded, operational and ready-to-deliver!

How did you prioritize which brands in the Pernod Ricard portfolio to develop?

Our starting point was to leverage our most global brands. The name of the convenience game is scale, so we selected a few strategic international brands and specialty brands with international potential to begin with. We built a global portfolio strategy, working across the brands and making sure they complement each other in the different consumer needs and occasions. We have been working closely on this strategy with all the brand companies and key markets: it’s all being done in a very collaborative spirit.

The convenience category is much faster moving than spirits, so we’ve had to change our ways of working. We want to go faster, to be more agile, and it’s a challenge to drive this kind of ambition in an integrated way while keeping the speed up.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Working with markets is always exciting, and our model is to build a global strategy with local execution. That means that, within that strategy, the markets can pick and choose what is most relevant to their local consumers, depending on their specific needs. It allows us to scale-up fast while keeping much-needed local relevance. However, change is never easy, and moving from plan to implementation isn’t always a smooth ride. The convenience category is much faster moving than spirits, so we’ve had to change our ways of working. We want to go faster, to be more agile, and it’s a challenge to drive this kind of ambition in an integrated way while keeping the speed up. That’s why we have set up our team to be as agile as possible end-to-end. And of course, the team is working hand in hand with the larger RTD ecosystem within brand companies, markets, and regions every step of the way.

How has the convenience segment developed during the last couple of years?

The category showed steady growth already before the pandemic. But lockdowns and restrictions worked as an accelerator. When consumers realized that they had to spend more time at home, learning how to create long drinks and cocktails became a good pass time. This meant that growth spiked during the pandemic but has slowed down a bit. However, RTD is still the fastest-growing segment – faster than beer, spirits, and wine. The cocktails and long drinks RTD segment in particular is expected to grow by 13 percent per year in the next five years.

Which are the biggest trends when it comes to RTDs?

The maturity of the markets differentiates the trends. In the US, hard seltzer has been going strong for a few years, but we are now seeing a clear shift toward long drinks and cocktails. For example, we’ve seen over +50% growth in volume for our Absolut and Malibu cocktail ranges over the last 6 months. The Asian market is younger and less mature, with FABs (Flavored Alcoholic Beverages) preferred. They also have a greater affinity for local brands. In Europe, there is a strong trend to consume long drinks, meaning a spirit base and one mixer (soda, lemonade…). When it comes to flavors, the taste is less fragmented. There are a few Asian markets with different preferences, but beyond that, citrus, berries, and tropical flavors work pretty much everywhere.

What does this growth mean for Pernod Ricard in terms of expanding business?

Our portfolio includes many premium brands that are perfectly fit to be consumed as cocktails and long drinks. Hence, we’re going to great lengths to make consumers aware of all the great drinks they can make with our brands. Consumers are looking for more flavorful, fruitier, and refreshing RTDs but are also very attentive to product quality. Craft and “premiumness” are king in that sense, and – given that we already have both premium and craft in our portfolio – I see great potential in extending our range. It’s also vital to ensure we deliver convenient products of the highest possible quality since it’s a great way to introduce consumers to our brands. We can’t afford to disappoint consumers if we want to achieve loyalty.

Meet The Absolut Company’s archivist Lovisa Severin Kragerud

Behind every successful company, you will find a person that’s safeguarding all the inherit stories and makes sure they’re told as they happened. Lovisa Severin Kragerud is surley one of these storykeepers, working as Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller at The Absolut Company. She calls herself “the history hub” and is constantly searching for information gems in old hard drives. We chatted with her on what to expect from the upcoming LinkedIn series “Did you know?” where she will share anecdotes from The Absolut Company’s past.

What does a Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller at The Absolut Company actually do?

I’m like a historic hub and go-to person for my co-workers who seeks forgotten content. Jokes aside, people come to me when searching for old material that they can reuse or that might work as inspiration for upcoming campaigns or different communications activities. I’m also using the material for my archive geek-series which contains fun anecdotes that are shared internally. But the most fun part is that I can dig deep and find really old information from the 1800s. For example, letters, business cards, and memoirs from our founder LO Smith.

What does a typical day at work look like?

Ideally, I’m in my bottle archive sorting through a complete collection of all the Absolut bottles, including all versions and all labels. But otherwise, I support various project groups as a historical consultant with a lot of research for inspirative and informative purposes.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s finding gaps in the archives where things or stories might have disappeared over the years. Surprisingly, the 21st century is the most challenging period to find information on. It was a time when we started to digitize all our content, and some hard drives got lost. But our IT department just contacted me and said they found a couple of lost hard drives that I will look into in the next couple of weeks. Like many other companies, our archive will never be completed. It’s like a living organism that will constantly be supplemented and replenished. I am the first archivist at The Absolut Company here in Sweden, and I’ve only worked here for around five years, so it has been – and will be – a challenge to continuously discover and share exciting stories from the past.

We actually have an archive with 400 pieces of clothing from designers like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, and Versace. It also includes garments from Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano, Helmut Lang, Alaïa, and others.

Do you have a favorite period in Absolut’s history?

I have a little crush on our campaigns between 1981-2005, especially Absolut’s city ads. Also, I enjoy looking at Absolut’s Fashion campaign that was rolled out between 1988-2006. We actually have an archive with 400 pieces of clothing from designers like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, and Versace. It also includes garments from Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano, Helmut Lang, Alaïa, and others. Every design piece is unique and one of a kind. We have everything from bikinis and jackets to pants and jeans. But our net dress, made by Anthony Ferrara in eighteen-carat gold, is in a class by itself. It was worn by Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex and the City, at a fashion event in New York. She was supposed to take it off right after the catwalk ended because of how expensive it was and for safety reasons. But she actually disappeared right after exiting the runway and went off to a party dressed in our gold dress. Luckily, the dress was returned to our office the morning after, packed in a brown paper bag. It will be on display at The Kristianstad Regional Museum in Sweden in a stand with bulletproof glass, among other pieces from our clothing collection, between April and August.

What can our readers look forward to in the upcoming LinkedIn series “Did you know?”

Stories and anecdotes that haven’t been told before. It will be everything from behind-the-scenes material from previous campaigns to tales dating back to the birth of Malibu and Kahlúa, and even as way back as our founder LO Smith’s childhood. The Absolut Company’s products all have their own unique, rich, and exciting histories. For example, Absolut Vodka has a strong connection both in Sweden and USA. Sweden is where the spirit originates from, but when we started to export to the USA in 1979, it was given a second life in conjunction with the branding. We have brands like no other, and now it’s time to shed light on their journeys.

Peafowl Plasmonics sheds light on the future of solar technology

Peafowl Plasmonics, offering groundbreaking sustainable energy solutions with their completely transparent solar cells, was recently named one of Sweden’s best startups for a second time by the technology magazine Ny Teknik. We talked to Jacinto Sá, Professor in Physical Chemistry at Uppsala University and Chief Science & Innovation Officer, as well as Co-Founder of Peafowl Plasmonics, on their solar cell technology and the future of climate innovation and renewable energy.

What makes Peafowl Plasmonics’ solar energy technology unique? 

The Peafowl cell is an ultra-transparent, light-harvesting cell and the first direct plasmonic solar cell. Our proprietary technology can absorb up to ten times more light than any other known material, using plasmonic nanoparticles as the active photovoltaic material. The downside is that the window to extract an electrical charge is small, so a few years ago, we began looking into strategies to extract the charge as quickly and efficiently as possible. We sent our results out for review, and the researcher thought we had forgotten to send him the material because it looked like a piece of glass.

The product’s transparency mesmerized people, so we started looking for devices and applications that might benefit from this level of transparency. This aspect is unique, but it also means that the material cannot produce a lot of power. Instead, our technology can be used for power generation, to help power anything you want to see through but not impact the aesthetics of, such as an e-paper. 

What are the key sustainable benefits of using your technology? Where do you envision yourselves making the most impact?

Our solar cell technology can be applied to anything with an e-paper display. For example, a sign, smartwatch, or Kindle, in order to provide a constant recharge, increase functionality, and prolong the usage of the devices while avoiding the annoyance of having to charge too often. 

Our proprietary technology can absorb up to ten times more light than any other known material, using plasmonic nanoparticles as the active photovoltaic material.

Another example is the Internet of Things. The current belief is that, at some point, we will have one trillion devices connected to the Internet of Things with sensors that monitor and control everything in society. At present, a coin battery generally powers these devices, and anything you multiply by one trillion is an enormous amount! But if you want good data, you have to measure often, which drains the battery fast, meaning that you have to replace it. The estimation is that 273 million batteries would need to be replaced daily. The Peafowl technology could reduce the number of single-use batteries tremendously. Our technology can also be utilized for indoor sensors that help measure and optimize the energy consumption of buildings, which can result in up to 50% energy savings. 

Can you share some thoughts on the future of climate innovation and renewable energy?

Energy is power, and whoever controls the energy we use holds the power. We cannot keep looking for a silver bullet to solve all our problems. In fact, oil was a silver bullet, so efficient that no other types of energy could compete, and look where we are today, struggling with our dependency on the oil industry. Going forward, we need multiple parallel solutions for our increasing need for energy so that one energy source does not control or dominate the energy supply. 

We can also make a big impact in managing and optimizing the energy we already have, which is a more direct and instant solution. We all need to take more responsibility for solving the climate crisis and reducing our energy consumption. We’ve solved major crises before, and we can do it again. There’s still time, and we’ve come far in just the past ten years with technological innovations, but at some point, technology won’t be able to solve our problems. However, I believe you can rally more people to make a change by giving them hope instead of despair when talking about our responsibilities and possible solutions. Martin Luther King didn’t inspire a social revolution by saying I have a nightmare; he said, I have a dream.

Is there anything new on the horizon you’d like to share?

We do not envision ourselves mass-producing solar power. Instead, we’re developing a recipe for companies to produce the Peafowl cell since we expect most companies implementing this technology to be large and would have problems relying on a small startup. We’re currently building a demo factory to demonstrate how to produce the Peafowl Plasmonics solar cells.

Absolut x Boiler Room celebrates inclusive nightlife culture through sonic and visual expressions

In 2019, Pernod Ricard entered a partnership with Boiler Room, the most influential brand in music-oriented youth culture with a global live stream and event platform. Together with several other brands across the portfolio, the ambition has been to create a unique festival concept that excites consumers within the evolving nightlife scene. We chatted with Anna Kohlin, Global Brand Manager in the Brand Creative team at The Absolut Company, to hear more about Absolut’s partnership with Boiler Room, the upcoming festival in Amsterdam, and how this project can serve as a platform for a new generation of DJ:s and VJ:s.

Why did Pernod Ricard initiate a partnership with Boiler Room?

There was a great opportunity for our portfolio of brands to come together to bring value to consumers through distinctive brand concepts and storytelling within this hybrid-festival and events space. For Absolut specifically, we were eager to work with Boiler Room to deliver creative and innovative program to this highly influential consumer group. That’s why we joined the Boiler Room X platform and shaped how it shows up with Absolut, where we can truly live our values and purpose to strive for a more open world. It’s a concept where we work with diverse communities worldwide to create unique experiences by highlighting both DJs and visual artists.

Women, queer and people of color are primarily underrepresented in the club and festival scene. We want to change that and build a platform where more artists can show their true talents, something that Boiler Room has always done.

Is the DJ and VJ scene too stereotypical?

Women, queer and people of color are primarily underrepresented in the club and festival scene. We want to change that and build a platform where more artists can show their true talents, something that Boiler Room has always done. Our concept includes working with DJs and VJs, as we see the combination of both artistic expressions as an important part of the culture. For example, we have collaborated with queer community Speilraum in Amsterdam that has curated our Boiler Room X stage with some amazing talent this weekend at the Boiler Room Festival.

What can the audience expect from the upcoming Boiler Room Festival in Amsterdam?

The sold out festival runs over three days from Nov 24-26th, at an exciting new venue with over 12,000 people attending. You will experience a wide range of music genres and sub-cultures coming together from the next generation of artists pushing the industry forward. For Absolut, we will have our stage on Saturday with a capacity for 2,500 people. The festival will be live-streamed during the weekend as well as broadcasted post event on Boiler Room’s website and their social media channels.

What’s in store next for the future of the partnership between Boiler Room and Absolut?

Our ambition for the coming year is to expand our impact through Boiler Room and collaborate with more interesting communities and emerging artists. Adding value by bringing local sounds and visual experiences to a global audience. We have four individual Absolut x Boiler Room events planned for 2023, with locations and timings finalized shortly. Stay tuned for what’s in store!

Making a new mark on all products

This year, all Absolut Vodka products are labeled with a new marking. The e-label might seem like only a small marking on the bottle, but it holds a great deal of information. We had a talk with Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Affairs & Communications at The Absolut Company, on the importance of exchanging all the labels on all products in all markets.

What is an e-label?

E-labels are digital shortcuts in the form of a QR-code that we print on all our labels. The purpose of implementing this solution is to give all consumers – in all markets – access to information and drinking guidelines that are locally adapted and in their own language. The pandemic has increased the use of digital solutions, which means that this type of label works well already now, and we’re confident that it’ll still work in 10 years’ time. This is a massive project that we’ve now just started to roll out globally. In the first stage, all products within the EU are being e-labelled and then next markets to follow are big markets like Mexico, Brazil and the US. The last stage is to implement in smaller markets, for example in South America and Southeast Asia. When we are done, the new e-label will be available in all our 140 markets. It is an amazing job that’s been done by our logistics and production departments, who – in the midst of a pandemic and a supply chain crisis – have managed to achieve all this.

How does it work?

It is a simple QR-code that is printed directly on the bottle label. The code can be scanned with your smartphone and it will forward you to the information that applies in your particular country. The app uses geotags, so you’ll be directed to the right market regardless of where in the world you are. All information is available both in the local language and in English.

Today’s consumers have a great deal of knowledge about how, what and why things are produced, and they expect that there is certain information available for them to access.

Why have you decided to implement it?

Today’s consumers have a great deal of knowledge about how, what and why things are produced, and they expect that there is certain information available for them to access. This means that there’s a great need for transparency for both companies and products. The most important information, i.e. energy declaration and responsible drinking logos, are clearly visible directly on the label, but now we are introducing another tool to make it easier for anyone who wants to know more about ingredients, drinking guidelines and health.

When will the e-label be introduced?

It has already started to be rolled out. The first bottles with QR codes went out in Italy and Portugal in August and now we continue with a full roll-out plan throughout the EU. The goal is to have all EU markets completed by 2022 and the rest of the world by the beginning of 2024.

Ingrid Leffler: the driving force of Spritmuseum says her last farewell

After running the Spritmuseum in Stockholm for 13 years, Ingrid Leffler is officially leaving her post as Museum Director. She has been a key player in hosting several famous and successful exhibitions. We chatted with Ingrid, who shared her most memorable moments in her career and her thoughts about Spritmuseums new exhibition, REDISCOVER Absolut Art Collection.

You’ve worked as Museum Director at Spritmuseum for more than a decade, and now you are leaving your post. How does it make you feel?

It feels good, and I think now is a really good time to hand over the baton. I am grateful and proud of all these years and the fantastic experiences Spritmuseum has given me. But now I am handing over the world’s most enjoyable job to another person, and it feels great. The best thing about being the Museum Director has been the privilege of meetings so many fantastic people and to be fortunate enough to be able to work with and alongside all the great artists, creators, partners, producers and colleagues that have been engaged in the museum and our exhibitions through the years.

What changes has Spritmuseum undergone during your tenure?

Quite a few, for sure. For me, one of the biggest changes was moving the entire museum to our current premises in Royal Djurgården, including establishing an art gallery for the Absolut Art Collection. In my 13 years, we have also increased the number of visitors from 10,000 up to 100,000 annually, which is amazing. Today, we are a museum that – in addition to showing Swedish drinking- and art history – conducts extensive program activities, serve exciting food, and holds events at our own restaurant. Another big change is within the industry itself. When I started as Museum Director at Spritmuseum, there were around 200 beverage producers in the country. Today there are closer to 900, which is a testament to the growth of the entire industry and something we are proud to display at Spritmuseum. We have also been a part of changing how we consume and talk about beverages in Sweden through our drink exhibitions, guest performances, range of drinks and tastings. We even founded a national championship in crafting cider where Swedish producers can compete and show off their best products.

In my 13 years, we have also increased the number of visitors from 10,000 up to 100,000 annually, which is amazing.

Which exhibition do you remember the most?

I remember most of them quite well, but some have made a more significant impression than others. An unforgettable one is the art exhibition with the painter Frank Bowling, who received renaissance and international recognition through our presentation, which rendered him an extensive show at the famous Tate Modern in London. I also remember when we launched the exhibition Realities, featuring Dan Wolgers and the writer Lena Andersson, which was one of our most well-visited throughout my time. Also, the cultural history exhibition, The Swedish Sin, received fantastic reviews and was one of the most crowded ones, with visitors queuing a long time to get in.

The exhibition REDISCOVER Absolut Art Collection will be your last one. What can you tell us about it?

The whole idea behind the exhibition was to let a younger generation of art connoisseurs select their favorites from our archives. They were just kids when the Absolut Art Collection emerged in the 80s and 90s. The result of their selections is a room with 90 floor-to-ceiling artworks, pastel-colored walls, and disco music blaring through the speakers. All these younger people also work as museum educators and guides at Spritmuseum. I am incredibly impressed with how they have approached the task and managed to create one of Spritmuseums best thematic exhibitions ever. It is creative, playful, innovative – and very stylish.

Finally, what will you do now?

I have some assignments left to complete here at Spritmuseum before I leave my post on February 1st. Other than that, I don’t really have any plans. I will think about what I want to do in the future with my free time and, hopefully, find something meaningful and fulfilling to get excited about.

Latest bar trends: Low-ABV products and minimalistic serves

Bar Convent Berlin, the largest tradeshow in Europe for the bar and beverage industry, started on October 10-12th, 2022, and was attended by exhibitors and visitors worldwide. People from across the industry met to learn more about new trends in the industry and discover exciting new products. We had a chat with Annika Skohg, Brand Manager of Advocacy & Education for The Absolut Company, who shared her insights.

What stood out the most from the Berlin Bar Convent?

First and foremost, the vast space and the high number of people attending. More than 13,000 visited the Berlin Bar Convent. We met importers, bartenders, and industry people, who shared their brands’ stories and the latest bar and drink trends. My biggest takeaway was the exhibitors serving minimalistic cocktails and with innovative techniques.

What are the latest bar trends?

Sherry is the new passion fruit! We surprisingly saw a lot of it at the show as an essential ingredient to many drinks. We even saw tattoo artists offering sherry tattoos. Also, the approach of creating cocktails on the laboratory level is getting more and more at the forefront with the number of clarified drinks displayed in Bar Convent Berlin. Furthermore, many wanted to return to the brand’s roots and highlight their products and beverages in a very raw and minimalistic way. Beyond that, the ready-to-drink trend is still alive, the importance of proper glassware was underscored, and cocktails were served with sustainable materials.

Sherry is the new passion fruit! We surprisingly saw a lot of it at the show as an essential ingredient to many drinks. We even saw tattoo artists offering sherry tattoos.

Which type of spirit do you think will be more popular in the future?

Gin was frequently featured among the exhibitors during the event, which is not surprising. It’s a versatile spirit still in high demand that comes in different variants and flavouring.

How has the industry recovered from the pandemic?

During the pandemic, the bar and drinking industry was among the most wrecked. However, the recovery is going in the right direction. But my impression from Berlin Bar Convent is that many people that were working the stand were new to their job and occasionally lacked experienced brand and cocktail knowledge. The pandemic created a general staff shortage in the industry, where many lost their jobs and switched careers. The regrowth will take some time.

How will the bar- and beverage industry meet the upcoming consumer needs?

During the show, we saw a lot of low-ABV products and alcoholic-free options, confirming that as we have seen for a while, consumer today are very conscious about their alcohol intake. They care a lot more about the flavour and experience of the cocktail. Also, we know that Gen Z is a generation that cares a lot about what they consume and what the brands stand for. The quality of the product is not enough. They also want to understand where brands stand from a sustainable point of view, what we do for the environment and where your ingredients originate. Gen Z demands transparent storytelling about the brand’s operations which sets new requirements for the industry in the future.

Home is Where Our Story Begins – Absolut Home is awarded Europe’s Leading Vodka Distillery Tour 2022

Absolut Home received the internationally prized honor of Europe’s Leading Vodka Distillery Tour 2022 at the 29th annual World Travel Awards, acknowledging excellence in the travel industry worldwide. We had a chat with Frida Trieb, Sales & Marketing Manager, and Kenneth Hoffström, Site Manager, at Absolut Home, about what makes a great distillery tour, what this award means, and what’s next for the Absolut Brand Home.

Congratulations on being awarded Europe’s Leading Vodka Distillery Tour! In what ways will this award affect and benefit Absolut Home?

It’s a recognition that allows us to reach a much wider and international audience, and it offers us a more impactful narrative when it comes to communicating who we are, says Kenneth.

Tell us about the process of being nominated for the award.

We were nominated at the beginning of this summer but were so busy with our operations that we actually didn’t have the chance to properly spread the word throughout our network. So, it came as a big surprise to us that we won the award! Kenneth admits.

Our tours have a nice mix of fun interactive elements, information, and a genuine sense of community. Our guides also make the experience personal, engaging, and stimulating. I think it is the combination that makes our tours so wonderful and what sets them apart.

What is the key to a successful distillery tour? What makes the Absolut Home tour stand out?

Our tours have a nice mix of fun interactive elements, information, and a genuine sense of community. Our guides also make the experience personal, engaging, and stimulating. I think it is the combination that makes our tours so wonderful and what sets them apart, says Frida.

Can you share some visitor feedback from your award-winning tours?

Many visitors have told us that the tour has been both professional and exciting and that the guides have excellent knowledge and are able to answer all their questions. In addition, we notice great interactions between our guests and guides. They explore different rooms, have the space to interact, and create a unique time together. At the end of the tours, the visitors are invited to make their own cocktails or alcohol-free drinks, which is usually mentioned as something extra special in the reviews, Frida says.

What does the collaboration between the different Brand Home Destinations within the Pernod Ricard Group look like? In what ways do you share best practices, inspire, and learn from each other?

The entire Pernod Ricard Brand Home community meets regularly to share knowledge and inspiration, which offers a sense of belonging to us since we’re the only Brand Home located in Sweden. We support each other, help one another, and uphold standards and guidelines developed within the group. We share best practices, how to treat our employees respectfully, and agree on benefits such as employee discounts, etc., Kenneth points out.

Are you working with any other tourist attractions in the region? 

We collaborate with many hotels and tourist attractions in the region. For example, since we can’t offer accommodations, and the local hotels need to provide experiences to their guests, we are working in collaboration to make visits to Åhus more memorable. It’s a win-win situation, says Kenneth. We started talking to Wanås Castle before the pandemic. They have accommodations and art exhibitions, and we both attract visitors. It would be a great fit to join forces as two interesting destinations in the area.
We are also cooperating with Kristianstad Municipality amongst other local stakeholders to promote the region, Frida says. They encourage visits to Absolut Home, and it is our ambition to make sure everyone has a great time with us. 

Have you noticed a change in tourism patterns and/or behaviors post-pandemic? 

Yes, we have. The number of visitors is lower now than during the pandemic. The whole industry has slowed down after two years of strong summers. And there are several theories as to why. One reason could be that many Swedes had a desire to travel abroad after restrictions were lifted. Another reason might be that we are facing inflation in society overall. People are more careful with spending, and as a result, they might not travel as much, Kenneth suggests. 
Åhus is a summer town, but we are actively working on prolonging the season. During the Holidays, we have a special event where we open our outdoor bar and hold a Christmas fair. Our Christmas lunches and dinners are very popular and are often accompanied by a tour, Frida fills in. 

What’s on the horizon for Absolut Home?

We’re currently exploring more tours, events, and exhibitions. In addition, we are planning guest appearances by both bartenders and chefs. We’re also looking into collaborating with the Skåne Regional Museum, which will show the Fashion Cocktail exhibition during spring 2023, previously held at Spritmuseum in Stockholm. Internally we’re making efforts to communicate about our offers in a clear and straightforward way. There are a lot of exciting things happening this year, and our hope and aim are that they will be seen, heard, and received well! Frida says.